The far-right political party Vlaams Belang wants to give Flemish expats living abroad the opportunity to vote in regional elections.
Two members of the party, Kristof Slagmulder and Johan Deckmyn, submitted the proposal on voting rights ahead of the Day of the Flemish Community on 11 July, according to Het Laatste Nieuws.
“On the one hand, we want Flemish people living abroad to have the right to vote in state elections and, on the other hand, we want the Flemish Parliament to be directly represented in various inter-parliamentary organisations,” party members Slagmulder and Deckmyn said.
Flemish people living abroad can vote in the federal and European elections, but at the moment people who are not based in Belgium cannot participate in the local, provincial and regional elections, even though “the Flemish government’s coalition agreement states that it will strive to realise this right to vote,” Slagmulder said.
In May this year, Slagmulder put a question about the voting rights for Flemish people living abroad to questioned Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon, who said he would raise the issue during a forthcoming meeting with the federal government, as such a change in voting rights is a federal issue.
The Flemish Parliament unanimously passed a resolution asking the federal government to look into international voting rights in 2015. The bill on this subject was then voted on by the Senate in 2020, but the proposal did not make it through the House.
“The federal government must now shift gears to pass the law and exert pressure so that other regions no longer put a stick in the wheels for voting rights abroad,” Slagmulder argued.
Vlaams Belang minister Barbara Pas also questioned Federal Home Affairs Minister Annelies Verlinden on this matter in May, to which Verlinden said an investigation into the matter still had to be carried out within the government.
The party is also looking to achieve more international representation of the Flemish government, including in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).
“A direct representation of Flanders in international parliamentary organisations would increase the visibility of Flanders worldwide and confirm the equal status of the Flemish Parliament with the federal one”, according to Deckmyn.